The Professor and I had the pleasure of visiting the French Lick Resort in Southern Indiana and to say that we were pleasantly surprised is an understatement – shocked and awed is more like it. The architecture alone is both stunning and breathtaking, but what makes this resort a treasure is it’s rich and fascinating history which spans more than 150 years.
From Wikepedia: ‘The West Baden Springs Hotel is a historic landmark hotel in the town of West Baden Springs in Orange County, Indiana, USA, known for its vast domed atrium. It is currently part of the French Lick Resort Casino complex. Prior to the completion of the Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1955, the building had the largest free-spanning dome in the United States and was the largest in the world from 1902 to 1913. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, became a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.’
Tile work flooring in the Domed Atrium which consists of more than 2 million 1-inch marble tiles that were installed by Italian artisans from 1917-1919.
This fireplace is large enough to accommodate logs up to 14 feet in length and was refaced with glazed ceramic tiles from the Rookwood Pottery Company between 1917 and 1919.
Originally, birds had free range in the dome where guests lounged and palm trees thrived under the 200 foot dome
West Baden Springs Check-In Area – stunning!
In his book, West Baden Springs: Legacy of Dreams author Chris Bundy writes, ‘These hotels were the Disney World of their time. In those days, it was assumed that if you could afford to come to America [for vacation], you would go to French Lick. It was that well-known overseas.’
At one point, the property was owned by Jesuit priests; it was also a satellite campus as part of the Northwood Institute from 1966 to 1983. And believe it or not, basketball legend Larry Bird held clinics and staged games in the dome.
As I said, this resort has a fascinating and rich history – we did not get to stay overnight but I can’t wait to return and experience all that it has to offer: full-service spa, hiking trails, horseback riding as well as some of the fabulous restaurants on the property!